Bigger, Better, Digital

Networks head to NAB with ambitious plans

When the National Association of Broadcasters opens its doors on the morning of April 7, attendees who have spent the past few years shuttling between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Convention Center will be pleased to see that the days of catching the convention shuttle are over.

That's the good news. The bad news is that attendees will still need to bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes for covering the additional 920,000 square feet in the convention center's South Hall.

This week, on the following pages, we lay out the plans that both broadcast and cable networks will carry to Las Vegas next month, and it looks to be a busy NAB for both attendee and exhibitor. Converting to new digital facilities seems to be more than a trend and could signal the bounce the technology manufacturers have been waiting for. The conversion to digital has occurred primarily in the transmission area, with the rest of station or network operations waiting for the right time to meet the right price. According to interests that the networks are talking about, that time may be now.

HDTV also finds itself high on the shopping list of the networks, particularly the cable nets. For manufacturers of HD-related gear, that increased interest is welcome news. To date, many of the efforts in HD production gear have appeared to be more an exercise in technical achievement than a bona fide business opportunity.

Next up on March 10: the station groups.